The Flower Man

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Okay, I know what you’re thinking.

“Who writes a book review on a picture book?”

I do.

Because I am an adult, and I have goals and priorities and schedules and bills and insurance.

I also have a candy jar in my kitchen for extreme and vital emergencies. It’s filled with smarties.

Yum.

But seriously, The Flower Man is a book that I feel deserves all the recognition it can get. The story, a sweet journey through colorful, vividly detailed pages, offers a unique example of the way one heart can change an entire town. Mark Ludy, the author of this beautiful little book, is one of the finest illustrators I have ever had the privilege of coming across. The Flower Man, and a few of his other books, are wordless picture books, conveying their stories through gorgeous artwork and brightly colored detail rather than the more traditional written style.

Despite the lack of words, this book offers a sweet and impacting story that I have no doubt will charm a smile onto your face.

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It begins with the Flower Man, an old, grandfatherly type who arrives in a small, dismal little town in the middle of the night, looking for a place to stay. He settles on a broken down shack in the center of the town, buys it, and begins to make repairs.

The brilliance of this book is in the colors. In the beginning, the town is black and white, with a little gray and brown mixed in for good measure. It’s dull and dirty and more than a little depressing. The Flower Man, by way of contrast, is a collage of colors, with a bright green coat, an old blue hat with a yellow and orange patch, a yellow scarf, and a purple flower in his hat band.

The days go by. He fixes up his little house, (which slowly begins to have color of its own) paints his fence white, and plants a garden.

The people of this little town, all of them as dull and colorless as the buildings, begin to take notice of him. Before too long, he offers a flower to a little girl. She takes it—and finds her own color in the midst of all the dingy surroundings.

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The rest, as they say, is history. The book is a lovely depiction of how impacting one person’s love and peace can be amid unhappy surroundings. Mark Ludy is truly an incredible artist, and I am constantly surprised that his books are not on every bookshelf in every house I visit. Someday, I’m sure, he will be remembered in the same sentence as Bill Peet and Dr. Seuss.

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